Tim's Blog

ISO 14001:2015 - The expanded scope of objectives


The 2004 version of ISO 14001 requires development of objectives and targets, and the establishment of programmes to achieve these objectives. The new 2015 standard has expanded the scope of objectives but has dropped any reference to targets in favour of “measurable objectives”.



Setting objectives


Clause 6.2.1 of the 2015 standard requires objectives to be established at relevant functions and levels within your organisation. Clause A.6.2 suggests that top management establishes objectives at the strategic level (applicable to the whole organisation) and the tactical/operational level (applicable to specific units or functions).


Environmental objectives must consider significant environmental aspects and compliance obligations; however, you can select which aspects and obligations are addressed in the objectives. Objectives may also address some of your documented risks and opportunities.


Clause 6.2.2 of the standard addresses the planning required to achieve environmental objectives:

  • what will be done and what resources will be required?
  • who will be responsible for the outcome?
  • when will it be completed (and I’d add: what are the milestones?)
  • how will the results be evaluated, including monitoring of progress?





Measuring and monitoring objectives


The 2015 standard also stipulates that objectives be measurable and monitored. To achieve this, I suggest you revert to the old standard’s use of targets. The “objective”, then, is the intended environmental outcome or purpose (eg. reduce paper usage). The “target” is a measurable performance requirement (eg. reduce paper usage to 1 ream of paper per person per quarter averaged over the next 12 months).


Then, you just need to determine how you’ll track performance against the target. In the above example, how will paper usage be measured? Perhaps via purchase records. Usage may be easy to measure, but waste can be more difficult. Waste might sometimes be tracked by direct measurement, but more often by difference using a mass-balance approach.



Collaboration is key

The most important thing to note when setting objectives, targets, deadlines and resources, is make sure that it is done in consultation with the team accountable for achieving the objectives. This will engender a sense of ownership for the objectives and increase the likelihood of goals being reached.